Armen Ashotyan, Vice-President of the Republican Party of Armenia and Minister of Education, has addressed a letter to the member parties of the European people’s Party (EPP), urging to follow the situation in Kessab and support the fundamental rights of the Armenian population in Syria:
“Republican Party of Armenia expresses its grave concern over the recent escalation of the situation in North-Western Syria, around the ancient town of Kessab and surrounding villages predominantly populated by Armenians.
All the available evidence and geographic location of Kessab, beyond reasonable doubt suggest that the late attacks were carried out by Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists groups across the border from the territory of neighboring Turkey. The brutal actions which targeted largely the civilian population, resulted in the forced displacement of local population. The extremist groups have desecrated Kessab’s Armenian churches, caused significant damage to the property of the inhabitants. There are only a few elderly people staying in the town who were not able to leave and whose fate remains unknown.
Those deplorable attacks greatly undermine the implementation of unanimously adopted UN Secretary Council Resolution 2139 and 2118, aimed at paving ways for the settlement of the Syrian crisis.
Armenia has on many occasions raised the issue of the urgent need for the protection of ethnic and religious minorities, including Armenians in conditions of armed conflict in Syria, who have found themselves in extremely vulnerable situation and have become primary targets. Therefore, as the humanitarian crisis continues to linger it is very important to strongly argue the Turkish authorities to take immediate measures to prevent further use of its territory by the extremist groups.
EPP Political Assembly has also discussed the situation with Christians in Middle East, in Syria, particularly, several times. The use of force against the civilian population regardless of their ethnic and religious identity must be unequivocally condemned.
The international community should undertake resolute efforts to ensure the safety and security of displaced peoples, including the Armenians, facilitate conditions for their early, safe and dignified return to their places of residence and provide indispensable humanitarian assistance to address their urgent needs. Republican Party of Armenia urges all EPP member parties to follow the situation in Kessab and support the fundamental rights of the Armenian population in Syria.